Steve Marsden, 48, guilty by eight votes to one of conspiring to import 50,000 ecstasy pills in the summer of 2006.
Saturday, 10 January 2009
The pills were hidden in the panels of his Mitsubishi pajero and he was stopped by police as he was driving off the catamaran on July, 9, the night of the World Cup.When originally arraigned in 2006, Mr Marsden had been charged with importing 28 packets, containing 50,000 ecstasy pills, with the Lacoste crocodile logo embossed on them. He had also been accused of trafficking in the drug.However, two months into the compilation of evidence, court expert Mario Mifsud, a pharmacist, had testified that the pills were not illegal.It turned out that the pills contain the chemical mCPP, which shares several pharmacological properties with MDMA (ecstasy) but was not illegal in Malta when the find was allegedly made.The charges of importing and pushing drugs were subsequently dropped and the Attorney General issued a bill of indictment accusing Mr Marsden of conspiring to deal in ecstasy.Mr Marsden appealed, arguing that since the drugs were not illegal the "charge as it stands is an invention of the Attorney General in his unfettered right to charge as he deems fit".The Court of Criminal Appeal, presided over by Chief Justice Vincent Degaetano, Mr Justice David Scicluna and Mr Justice Joseph Micallef, threw out the appeal and ruled that "a person may be found guilty of, say, conspiracy to import heroin into Malta even though the stuff he eventually brings into Malta turns out to be baking powder. It all depends on what was actually agreed upon between the conspirators and, more specifically, on the object of the conspiracy".The appeals court said that it was not up to it to decide whether "it was "real" ecstasy or "fake" ecstasy, adding that the Attorney General was clearly of the opinion that it was "real" and Mr Marsden disagreed. However, at this point it was up to a jury to decide.